|For Immediate Release
June 7, 2012
Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Full Committee Hearing
Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice
Chairman Smith: Regrettably, the Obama administration has shown a disregard for the Constitution and rule of law in an effort to impose their agenda on the American people. There are many examples.
Efforts to block congressional inquiries about the Administration’s actions undermine the balance of power on which our nation was founded.
The Department of Justice still has not provided enough information about Operation Fast and Furious so that the American public and Congress can judge who in the Department bears responsibility for the decisions that led to Agent Brian Terry’s death.
The Justice Department refuses to comply with Congressional subpoenas that may shed light on why this program was authorized and who had knowledge of the inappropriate tactics.
The Department of Justice also has failed to provide relevant information that would have revealed the extent of Justice Kagan’s involvement in the development of the Affordable Care Act when she was Solicitor General.
If she did give counsel on the health care bill, which was her job, then she should recuse herself rather than evaluating the law as a member of the Supreme Court. The Justice Department has refused to let us interview her former assistant.
Neglecting to enforce or defend the laws enacted by Congress is another violation of the Administration’s constitutional obligation to the American people.
Under this President, the Justice Department has engaged in a pattern of selective enforcement of the law in order to advance its own partisan agenda.
For instance, the Obama administration has sought to prevent state and local authorities from enforcing immigration laws.
At the same time, the Justice Department has refused to bring cases against sanctuary cities that violate Federal law by prohibiting their officials from communicating with the Department of Homeland Security about illegal immigrants they encounter.
Such sanctuary cities directly challenge the federal government’s authority to enforce immigration laws.
The Administration’s unwillingness to uphold immigration laws has led to injuries and even death.
The Administration refuses to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a law enacted by Congress and signed by then-President Bill Clinton.
This was a significant piece of legislation that was approved by a vote of 342 to 67 in the House and 85 to 14 in the Senate. Regardless of how one feels about the substance of the bill, the Department of Justice has an obligation to defend the laws of the land.
Efforts by the Administration to override election laws enacted by States also raise constitutional concerns.
Instead of acting to prevent voter fraud, the Department of Justice has challenged common-sense voter ID laws that require voters to identify themselves before they are allowed to vote.
The Department of Justice recently moved to block implementation of voter ID laws enacted by legislatures in Texas and South Carolina.
The Texas proposal was based on a similar law passed by the Indiana legislature, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008. The Justice Department’s challenge to the law ignores Supreme Court precedent that affirms a state’s right to enact laws to protect the integrity of its elections.
The Department of Justice even threatened to sue Florida for trying to remove ineligible non-citizens from its voter rolls.
Why would the Department of Justice not want states to remove ineligible felons, ineligible non-citizens, and the dead from their voter rolls?
The Administration’s actions aren’t just wrong--they are arrogant, undemocratic, and an insult to the rule of law.
The Administration’s disregard for the Constitution and rule of law not only undermines our democracy, it threatens our national security.
The Justice Department has not taken the initiative to prosecute leaks of national security secrets. Recent leaks about a foiled bomb plot out of Yemen and a cyber attack against Iran are, in the words of Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, “very detrimental . . . very concerning . . . [and] hurt our country.”
For the past three and half years, this Administration has engaged in a pattern of obstructionism, unaccountability, and partisanship.
The American people should have confidence that the Department of Justice fairly enforces laws. That confidence is lacking today. This hearing will explore how that confidence can be restored.